Almost all countries and nations have a set of rules and guidelines that define certain behaviors and actions as illegal. These rules are called laws, and most nations have developed a wide range of methods that can be used to punish those who commit an act defined as illegal. When dealing with an entire country or larger geopolitical area, however, things get a little more complicated. Nations from around the world have been witness to various atrocities like genocide and torture. With the invention of international law an avenue has been created allowing countries to punish other countries or people within them who have violated international law.
There are a wide range of different criminal and illegal actions defined in international law. In general, it is the responsibility of each individual to uphold international humanitarian law in armed conflicts. For example, soldiers receive commands from their officers, and by following these commands the officers are held accountable for the actions of their soldiers. An act that contravenes international law implicates the officers as well, whether or not they actually performed any illegal acts. Enforcing international humanitarian law is somewhat complicated. First of all, it is sometimes difficult to have witnesses available to provide direct evidence of atrocities that may have been committed. In some ways, the media can help by playing an important role in bringing to attention the actions carried out by various nations in armed conflict. However, even with many reporters and on-site journalists providing the world with updated information on how specific events are bang carried out, plenty of events remain and unseen and sometimes forgotten.
There is no designated international police force that can effectively enforce international humanitarian law. The international Red Cross can help in their own way, by providing information related to harmed civilians that they have encountered. In some cases, the UN can propose military action against a nation that has violated international humanitarian law, but this will have to be agreed upon by many other members of the UN.
If international humanitarian law is violated, the international community has a right to respond. Enforcing international humanitarian law is typically carried out by imposing diplomatic or economic sanctions in accordance with the UN charter. However, in rare situations, the UN may employ military sanctions as a last resort if other efforts to resolve the crisis do not work.